Even as a majority of city’s essential services remained unaffected on the first day of the nationwide strike on Wednesday, public sector banks, insurance companies, a few offices and colleges saw poor employee turnout.
Around 27 public sector bank, including the Reserve Bank of India, 1,600 co-operative and 84 regional rural banks remained shut. Even major insurance companies such as Life Insurance Corporation, New India Assurance Company, United Insurance Company were closed.
“More than 60,000 bank employees from the city and state participated in the strike. Around 2 lakh employees from the insurance sector were also part of the bandh,” said Vishwas Utagi from All India Bank Employees Association.
Apart from that, around 4,000 teachers from the Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union didn’t report to work, and they will be staying away on the second day as well, said Madhu Paranjape, general secretary of the union.
Even the health sector took a hit with state-run hospitals having to postpone 70 surgeries after nurses, ward boys and operation theatre attendants went on strike.
Transport services and general trade in the city remained largely unaffected, except for two incidents of stone pelting on BEST buses at Goregaon (East) and Powai. Nobody was injured.
“Taxi services across the city were normal and we did not receive a single complaint from commuter or drivers,” said AL Quadros, chief of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
While the Mantralaya recorded an employee turnout of about 70%, it was 90% in other state government offices. “Action will be taken against those who not come to office on Thursday,” said PS Meena, principal secretary, general administration department.
Even 94% of the civic staff reported to work. “We had a contingency plan in place,” said Vijay Khabale, chief PRO, BMC.
Commuters accuse BEST of fleecing them
Mumbai: This time, it was not auto and taxi drivers who took advantage of the nationwide strike to fleece Mumbaiites but the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, going by commuters’ complaints.
Passengers on Wednesday alleged that the BEST conductors charged them air-conditioned bus fare though they travelled in regular, non-AC buses on routes where the BEST operates AC buses.
Usually, the BEST operates 213 AC buses on 27 routes every day, but on Wednesday, it did not ply any of its AC buses, fearing attacks and damage. Instead, it plied ordinary buses on the AC route numbers.
“The conductor charged me Rs76 for my journey between Cadbury junction in Thane and Kapol Nivas in Matunga. This is three times the regular fare,” said Richa Padte, an advertising executive.
Like Padte, several other passengers had to shell out more money.
“The BEST today proved that it is no different from auto and taxi drivers,” said Abhishek Bhargav, a resident of Airoli. “One can understand why they need to run ordinary buses, but charging extra was unacceptable.”
After receiving several complaints, the BEST announced that it would refund the excess fare charged, but it is not clear how commuters can reclaim their money.
“The excess amount paid by passengers will be refunded on production of the AC bus ticket,” said a BEST release, adding that the problem occurred because conductors did not have ticket-vending machines with the regular fares.